Combine that big impact with today’s technology, and you get small business owners and medium-sized companies who can readily compete with major corporations.
Here are 5 revolutionary ways that technology is changing how small-to-medium businesses succeed.
1. The Cloud is everywhere
That means your small-to-medium business can be, too.
If you’re wondering what “the Cloud”is, you’re not the only one. In concise terms, it’s the ability to manage, store, and just do stuff online. No need for physical, on-premise hardware for the user. For a more in-depth explanation, Gizmodo does a great job of detailing what the Cloud is and where it is here.
How does the Cloud affect small-to-medium businesses?
- Costs– because there is a lack of hardware, it can be much cheaper.
- Flexibility– there is the ability to scale your business needs along with business growth.
- Backup/Recovery– both of these things are easier than ever.
- Accessibility– you and/or your employees can access almost anything from anywhere.
2. Mobile comes first
We have passed the mobile tipping point, meaning that consumers are now spending more time on mobile devices than on desktops. This report from comScore shows the crossover happening in 2014:
What does mobile mean for small businesses?
Just a few years ago, you could get away with never wondering about a “mobile first” strategy, but today we know that mobile is the most common digital platform in the world and that trend is not going away anytime soon.
That means whether it’s creating a relevant app, making sure you have a mobile-friendly site and content, or even designing marketing campaigns based on mobile behavior, incorporating mobile into your small-to-medium business is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
3. Data is your new friend
There was once an era when “big data” was pretty much exclusive to major enterprises. Nowadays, data can empower SMB companies to make informed decisions, increase productivity, and really execute on Pareto’s Principle aka the 80/20 Rule.
This Entrepreneur article details what characteristics small-to-medium businesses should look for in any data-driven solution.
Based on that, here are some data-driven tools to make things easier for SMB companies:
- FinTech or Financial Technology– Kabbage is a small business lender known for their six-minute loan process. Using an API to quickly crunch a bunch of data, they can approve small businesses for loans up to $100,000 almost instantly.
- Marketing automation– HubSpot is a user-friendly platform that focuses on the SMB sector. Plus, there are endless amounts of useful content for the business owner on their blog.
- Workflow or app-automation– This is where the increased productivity comes in. IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a tool that creates connections between everyday consumer apps like Gmail, Evernote, and more. Zapier is similar but has a greater variety of apps you can link together and seems to focus more on the business side of things.
- Tracking and testing- Tools like Hotjar and Unbounce (both used by Brandfolder!) allow you to easily track user behavior on your website or conduct A/B testing to help you make better landing pages and more effective marketing campaigns. Just remember, data is good to have but what really matters is what you do with it.
4. Productivity on a platter
You can compete with the giants. There are more tools than ever before to empower the small business owner or medium-sized company.
Want proof? Check out these solo entrepreneurs who are bringing in over $1 million dollars in revenue a year.
As cited in the Forbes article, many of these successful “solopreneurs” use technology to their advantage in order to scale up the million-dollar mark.
You can accomplish SMB success with tools like:
- Grasshopper allows you to have a professional 1-8xx-number (if you want) and calls get directed to your cell phone.
- Evernote makes note taking as simple as possible. You can also sync your notes across all your devices. Their mobile Scannable feature is perfect for inputing all those business cards sitting in your office.
- Unroll.me makes email manageable. In one daily newsletter-like email, you can scan all your emails and unsubscribe with a single click.
- Todoist is one of the many task-manager apps out there. The tool itself is great because of its ease-of-use, ability to smartly recognize and create deadlines, and the premium offering allows multi-device syncing so you always have access to your to-do list.
- IFTTT is the easiest way to make the Internet work for you. IFTTT creates connections between the tools you use every day, such as automatically creating an event on your calendar whenever somebody sends you an invite through email.
5. Remote is the new cubicle
Forrester reports that 34 million Americans currently work from home on a consistent basis. The same report predicts that by 2016, that number will be closer to 63 million, or nearly 43% of the working population!
Who is a telecommuter though?
According to a Census Bureau survey: “a 49-year-old college graduate — man or woman — who earns about $58,000 a year and belongs to a company with more than 100 employees.”
What does this mean for SMB companies?
A Stanford University professor teamed up with a Chinese travel agency to conduct an experiment about telecommuting. It was found that the “home-based employees worked more than office workers — 9.5 percent longer — and were 13 percent more productive”. Plus, it seemed that workers were happier, since quitting rates were cut in half.
Then there’s the body of research showing that people tend to have a slump of alertness between 3pm and 6pm due to natural circadian rhythms. This means remote work can allow employees to work when they are at their best and most alert.
Finally, one of the biggest wins from the rise of remote work is that you can literally work whenever, wherever, and however you want.
That sounds pretty revolutionary to us.
Are you a small-to-medium business? If so, what other ways do you use technology? Let us know in the comments or share with your SMB community! __ __Related reads: